Helpful Tips When Driving Your Car Abroad

Posted on March 13, 2013 · Posted in Insurance Guides

Equip yourself

If you plan on driving your vehicle in the EU, you must first fix a sign to your car indicating that you are from Great Britain.

You can pick up a GB sticker from most car parts and accessory retailers. If you have Euro plates which include the GB sign, you do not need to worry about placing a GB sticker on the car.

In many European countries it is compulsory to carry a warning triangle – it would also be wise to carry two reflective jackets in the car. In fact this is, again, compulsory in the majority of EU member states.

Advice from the foreign office is that you pack a fire extinguisher, first-aid kit, tool kit and spare bulbs for your car to help you out in any potential eventualities.

Important Documentation

Hopefully this is not a case of teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but the following documents should be taken with you:

  • Passport(s)
  • Full driving licence – including paper counterpart
  • International Driving Permit (if required)
  • Certificate of your motor insurance
  • Vehicle registration document (V5c)

Car insurance

Inform your insurance company of your trip roughly one month ahead of the journey. By doing this you can check exactly what your policy covers.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming your policy will afford you the same type of cover in a foreign country as it does on the UK’s roads.

Key issues that you should be covered for include theft, fire, damage and Personal Liability. If, after talking with your insurance company, you find that your policy does not cover these, you should consider an upgrade on your policy – but be aware that this could come with an added charge.

Breakdown cover

Like your insurance policy, make sure that you ensure that the vehicle breakdown cover you have extends to taking your car abroad – the chances of you being involved in an accident can be slightly higher when driving in a foreign country, mainly due to the fact that you’re driving in an unfamiliar country.

Common EU Destinations and what to expect


To legally drive in France you must be 18 years old. You must also hold a valid full UK driving licence, as well as insurance and vehicle documents. You can drive vehicles that do not belong to you; however you must hold written permission from the registered owner.

In France carrying a warning triangle in the vehicle is compulsory. Also, you must have a reflective jacket in the car that is accessible without getting out of the car.

The French authorities have recently tried to crack down on speeding offences which has led to heavy, on the spot fines. In extreme circumstances they have the right to confiscate both your vehicle and licence.

Please note that recent changes to French law now means that satellite navigation systems which warn you of the location of speed cameras is illegal. You must also have a breathalyzer kit in the car.


To drive your vehicle in Holland, you must hold a valid full UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents

Similarly to France, if the vehicle you are driving does not belong to you then you must hold written permission from the registered owner. Please note: it is illegal for you, as a British citizen, to drive on a provisional license in Holland.


The same rules revolving around documentation required on your person when driving in Belgium exist as above.

If you have not driven on the Belgian roads before, you will find that traffic tends to be very fast and for this reason the accident rate is high – in most cases down this is due to speeding.

Like Britain, the Belgian authorities have tried to stamp out speeding by installing speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles throughout their country.

An important rule of the road to take note of is drivers are required to give priority to other vehicles which are joining the road from the right. There are some exemptions to the rule, most notably on motorways and roundabouts.


As with the previous countries, to drive in Germany you must carry a valid driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents.  Currently, the minimum age for a driver in Germany is 18. So, if you are 17 and just passed your British driving test, you will not be able to drive in Germany.

Although not strictly a rule that affects you when driving, it is interesting to know that in Germany it is an offence to cross at pedestrian crossing points if the red pedestrian light is on.

If someone does this, they face a fine and the bill of all costs if their actions have caused an accident to occur.

In an emergency

If you find yourself in an emergency situation, please note that in mainland Europe, the number you will need to call for the emergency service is 112, not 999.


Written by James Harding

James is a copywriter at the UK’s leading online tyre retailer – Having created content for since 2009, James has amassed a wealth of knowledge relating to tyres, tyre safety, general motoring and car maintenance.